On Friday, Sept. 20, young people across the nation—and around the world—are staging a simultaneous strike to urge political leaders to take immediate action on climate change. The protest comes three days before the start of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, but activists hope to influence government at all levels, including the municipal.
To that end, local students have organized a Jacksonville event, which takes place in Hemming Park, Downtown, at 10 a.m. One of the organizers is Katie Carlson. The Stanton College Preparatory School sophomore told WJCT’s Melissa Ross that she was inspired by a Rhode Island protest she attended earlier this year, but has been disappointed in the lack of urgency in Northeast Florida.
“I haven’t seen much movement,” she explained. “When I saw the opportunity to have a strike here ... in coordination with thousands of people [globally], I really wanted to take that opportunity.”
The complacency Carlson notes locally is all the more troubling, given Northeast Florida’s position on the front lines of climate change. “I think that, especially in Florida, with sea level rising, we could be heavily impacted.”
This global event is the culmination of more than one year of piecemeal action. Students across the U.S. have been walking out of classrooms in protest every Friday. The movement has grown and become multigenerational. Next week’s UN Climate Summit represents a turning point, as scientists warn that this may be the last, best chance to seriously address climate change before its effects become catastrophic.
In addition to the Jacksonville event, there will be a 5 p.m. flash strike in St. Augustine, on the Downtown side of the Bridge of Lions.